The Italian city of Milan may be known as one of the fashion capitals of Europe, but for two days in late October the city will be home to two concurrent conferences that expose attendees to the perspectives of numerous recycling industry experts who provide a detailed look at the key factors affecting the paper and plastics recycling industries.
The Paper Recycling Conference Europe and the Plastics Recycling Conference Europe, both organized by Richfield, Ohio-based Recycling Today Media Group, the publisher of Recycling Today magazine, and Smithers Pira, based in the U.K., are scheduled for Oct. 29-30. Both conferences provide attendees with a comprehensive look at many of the top issues that are affecting processors and dealers of recycled plastics and paper.
A focused approach
Bill Moore, a principal with Moore & Associates, Atlanta, has been involved in the Paper Recycling Conference Europe since it began 10 years ago. He says growing interest in the paper recycling and plastics recycling sectors warrants separate conferences that target the trends and issues facing paper and plastics recyclers and consumers of these secondary materials.
“Paper recycling remains a large and vibrant business,” Moore says. “Meanwhile, plastics recycling is rapidly growing and is a strong commodity. And there is more of a divide in Europe between paper and plastics recyclers than there is in the U.S.”
While the Paper Recycling Conference Europe introduced some educational sessions on plastics recycling earlier in the decade, trying to provide ample coverage of plastic scrap markets in addition to a valuable venue for paper recyclers was proving to be challenging. Therefore, to satisfy the interests of both paper and plastics recyclers, conference organizers opted to create two separate events—one dedicated exclusively to paper recycling issues, while the other conference addresses topics affecting the plastics recycling sector. Despite being separate events, the two conferences share one exhibition space, which hosts networking breaks and the grand reception that concludes the first day of the conference.
James Keefe, Recycling Today Media Group publisher, says the decision to create two dedicated conferences followed significant feedback from attendees. He says attendees have been expressing great interest in attending conferences that focused on the individual materials rather than trying to cover both recyclables in a generalized event.
“By dedicating each of these conferences to that one particular commodity, we feel we are giving our attendees a much more focused conference, one that provides them with all the information they need to make more informed decisions,” Keefe says.
An enduring commodity
Despite the challenges the paper industry is experiencing, paper is still one of the most recycled commodities. To provide the more than 270 paper recycling industry officials in attendance with valuable insight, conference organizers are bringing some of the top paper and paper recycling companies together to discuss the issues affecting the industry.
Kicking off the Paper Recycling Conference Europe is a panel that examines the state of the industry. Panelists include Per-ove Nordstrom with the consulting firm McKinsey, who provides a macroeconomic look at the paper and paper recycling industries; Marc-Antoine Belthe, the head of recycling for Veolia Proprete France Recycling, who discusses the paper recycling industry from the perspective of one of the largest paper processing firms in Europe; and James Malone, the European sales and purchasing director for U.K.-based DS Smith’s Recycling Division, who outlines the perspective of a European paper mill.
Quality continues to be a concern for paper recyclers and recovered fiber consumers. Conference organizers have assembled a panel to discuss changing quality demands that includes Guillermo Valles with Spain-based recycled paperboard company SAICA, Johannes Kappen with the German research organization PTS and Graham Moore, a paper consultant with Smithers Pira. In addition to looking at trends affecting the industry, the panel discusses changing materials streams, collection programs and quality demands.
Transportation, an important though often overlooked component of the recycling industry, is the theme of another session at the 2014 Paper Recycling Conference Europe. The session, moderated by Ranjit Baxi, managing director of London-based J&H Sales International, includes representatives from container shipping lines, including Maersk, that discuss issues such as freight rates, container availability and consolidation in the container shipping industry.
The second day of the conference begins with a Mill Buyers Panel, which brings together paper mill representatives to discuss the recycling sector from their vantage points as consumers of recovered fiber.
The conference concludes with two sessions that go from global to local. In the penultimate session, a panel of top paper stock exporters discusses the changing export landscape. Topics to be discussed during the session include opportunities in China, new and growing markets for recovered fiber and trends affecting various recovered fiber grades in Europe as well as around the globe.
The 2014 Paper Recycling Conference Europe concludes with a look at the Italian paper and paper recycling industries, the fourth largest in Europe. However, with a purported recycling rate of 63 percent, Italy lags behind Europe’s average recycling rate, which is in excess of 71 percent. This disparity creates opportunities for astute recyclers in the country.
An up and coming commodity
Plastics recycling may not have the history that paper recycling does, but it is a material that holds tremendous upside, generating more interest from recyclers.
To ensure the inaugural Plastics Recycling Conference Europe provides attendees with the most value, conference organizers have assembled an advisory panel of top plastics recycling experts to help guide conference programming. The two-day conference provides attendees with the information they need to succeed in the plastics recycling industry.
The conference opens with an overview of the plastics recycling market in Europe. Speakers at the 90-minute session include Victor Bell, president of Environmental Packaging International, who sketches out pricing dynamics and provides a market overview; Martin Wiesweg, director of Chemical Market Associates, who will outline the global flow of recycled material; and Surendra Borad, chairman of the plastics recycling company Gemini Corp., who will discuss the post-Green Fence world.
Following the opening panel, the conference hosts a session titled Plastics Recycling Dynamics: the Buy-Side Perspective. This session looks at the possibility of delinking recycled plastics markets from the polymer markets and at European legislation affecting plastics recycling. It also features a panel discussion with a number of industry experts.
Other sessions to be covered at the Plastics Recycling Conference Europe include a discussion on some of the top plastic scrap grades, such as HDPE (high-density polyethylene), PET (polyethylene terephthalate), rigid plastics, polystyrene and plastics from electronics and end-of life vehicles; the challenges of recycling versus waste to energy; and expanding opportunities for the plastics supply chain.
The 2014 Plastics Recycling Conference Europe concludes with a strategic panel discussion, where government officials, closed-loop operators, end users, collectors and recyclers gather to discuss the challenges and opportunities for the plastics recycling sector in Europe.
Along with the two days of educational sessions, the two conferences share exhibit space, which also hosts networking breaks and a grand reception.
Finally, just because the two conferences have been built around providing insightful, valuable information that doesn’t mean attendees won’t have the opportunity to explore Milan in their free time. The events are held at the Milan Marriott Hotel in the heart of this metropolitan city. The location allows conference attendees easy access to many of the top destinations in this vibrant city.
The author is senior editor of Recycling Today and can be contacted through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.